[Photo: Maggot therapy used in a small wound]
Francesco Redi uses an experiment to compare two competing ideas that sought to explain why maggots appear on rotting meat. He observes that meat covered to exclude flies does not develop maggots, while uncovered meat did. This is regarded as one of the first uses of a controlled experiment.
Francesco Redi (February 18/19, 1626–March 1, 1697) was an Italian physician.
Born in Arezzo, Tuscany, to a family of nobility, he is most well-known for his experiment in 1668 which is regarded as one of the first steps in refuting "spontaneous generation" - a theory also known as Aristotelian abiogenesis. At the time, prevailing wisdom was that maggots formed naturally from rotting meat. In the experiment, Redi took eight jars, which he divided in two groups of four: in the first jar of each group, he put an unknown object; in the second, a dead fish; in the last, raw chunk of veal. Redi took the first group of four jars, and covered the tops with fine gauze so that only air could get into it. He left the other group of jars open. After several days, he saw maggots appear on the objects in the open jars, on which flies had been able to land, but not in the gauze-covered jars.
He continued his experiments by capturing the maggots and waiting for them to metamorphose, which they did, becoming common flies. Also, when dead flies or maggots were put in sealed jars with dead animals or veal, no maggots appeared, but when the same thing was done with living flies, maggots did appear.
Redi was also a poet, his best known work being Bacchus in Tuscany.
A crater on Mars was named in his honor.